Yesterday, Twitter added the label, “US State-affiliated Media” causing many to raise their brow.
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) April 5, 2023
Twitter‘s decision to label NPR as a “state–affiliated media“ outlet has sparked criticism from both political parties, as well as from experts in the field of disinformation. The nonprofit media company receives less than 1% of its annual budget from federal sources, and its CEO has spoken out against the label, arguing that it undermines the vital role NPR plays in providing “independent, fact–based journalism“ and holding the powerful accountable. Press secretary Karine Jean–Pierre defended NPR‘s journalism during the White House‘s daily briefing, saying “there is no doubt of the independence of NPR journalists.”
This is just silly.
If NPR receiving less than 1% of its revenue from federal government programs makes it "state-affiliated media," does Tesla accepting a $465m loan from DOE and benefiting from EV consumer subsidies make it "state-affiliated enterprise"? pic.twitter.com/9FrSFC2AFz
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) April 5, 2023
Twitter‘s owner and CEO Elon Musk weighed in on the debate, acknowledging the label had been applied to NPR and commenting that it “seems accurate.” His statement has only further raised questions about the company‘s decision.
Maybe a link under the account name to the list of Community Notes of an account that is frequently posting incorrect information
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2023
Twitter‘s policy page used to explicitly state that NPR would not be included in this label, however the wording was altered to remove NPR without any warning.
— Anthony DeRosa (@Anthony) April 5, 2023
Critics of the move have argued that it could create a false equivalency between public broadcasters and editorial control of media by government, and that it undermines the essential work of providing transparency about state–backed propaganda efforts around the world. They have also noted the move is yet another sign of Twitter‘s troubled relationship with the media, which has deteriorated since Musk bought the platform last year.
Despite the criticism, Twitter has yet to remove the label and continues to apply it to state–run propaganda outlets, further highlighting the inconsistency in their policy decisions. It remains to be seen whether the label will be removed from NPR‘s main account, or if the situation will continue to escalate. For now, it appears Twitter is content to stand by their decision, regardless of the outcry from both political parties and media experts.
Elon Musk is such a clown https://t.co/GN0ZRUgZly
— Zack “Buy My Book…Please” Hunt (@ZaackHunt) April 5, 2023